In February of 2014, I visited Maui for my best friend Erin's wedding. Three years later, I am currently traveling around Oahu! I am super excited to have the opportunity to explore another Hawaiian Island this week.
So, in anticipation of sharing my Oahu adventures on the blog, I wanted to take a look back at the experience I had in Maui. I was maid of honor at the time, so I was mostly busy helping out with the wedding. But, in between wedding plans, I had the opportunity to see a lot of the island. I drove the road to Hana, swam in a waterfall, drove up a volcano, hiked a bamboo forest, explored caves, went whale watching, attended a Hawaiian luau, and lots more.
It was during a time before I had my nicer camera, but I still took tons of photos with my Windows Phone and received some great shots from the friends I was with. Regardless, this photo-centric post will show you what Maui is like and the types of activities that can be enjoyed on a Hawaiian vacation.
I was so delusional last summer. I had a 4-day weekend off from work and Jono was visiting me here in New York. "I'll take him to Niagara falls on independence day weekend," I thought. "What could go wrong?" I thought. Rule number one for travelers who want to avoid crowds, long lines, and over-spending is to never visit popular destinations and landmarks on a holiday. And the last thing you want to do is pay for a tour at such a time. In all the traveling I did abroad, you would think I would not have made such a rookie mistake—in my own state of New York! Alas, I did. And that’s how I was reminded of the consequences when you do not deviate the norm. Warning: I’m going to rant about how awful the tourism industry can be in this post. Get ready for it.
Who knew tracking down manatees in a mangrove maze would be so mind-blowing? (I promise that's the only bit of alliteration in this post)
One day in the Florida Keys, Jono and I decided to kayak the mangroves around Islamorada. Two maps were handed to us and we were off. Confident in both our navigational abilities and physical abilities to take us around, we did not anticipate the amount of effort we were about to put into this trip.
In the end, we learned that when other people lay out a path for us, it's not always the clearest one to follow!
In travel or in life, there is a plus side to every failure. That is the lesson I learned from my failed attempts to see alligators with Jono while visiting the Florida Everglades.
This post has 4 failures describing why I did not get to see any alligators in southern Florida. Some of the reasons were beyond my control while others were absolutely my fault.
If your mission is to see alligators, make sure you do not do what I did and learn from my mistakes!
You can go snorkeling in the Florida Keys and have a great time—or you can royally mess up the experience. I did a bit of both. Along the way, I learned what to do and what not to do the hard way.
Follow my tips in this post and you won't make the same mistakes I did. You'll even learn a little trick I learned to get a really cheap boat ride turned snorkeling experience unlike any other!
I went to the Florida Keys to dive the shipwrecks. It's almost the entire reason I went, so it's a good thing I was able to visit 3 different wrecks during my stay.
Since Jono and I were only there for a week, we decided to concentrate our attention on one part of the over 100-mile archipelago. An important part of our planning was picking the optimal location to dive the most shipwrecks. This put us diving off of Key Largo, an excellent decision! But it also meant we missed 5 other shipwrecks found off the coast of the Keys.
This guide will help you decide which ones to see and which ones to skip.
Plans don't always work out—and sometimes that's okay! When the alternative is possibly getting electrocuted underwater, almost any alternative seems preferable.
When your plan goes awry, I find it's best to try to enjoy the moment for what it is because, sometimes, the unexpected can occur. You end up having an amazing time!
This is what happened on my 29th birthday this year. I traveled to the Florida Keys with Jono specifically to go diving. We were all set on the boat for our first dive when a massive storm hit. Instead of getting upset, I sat back, took in the excitement of the storm, and spotted the next best thing in the distance: A pod of dolphins heading straight for us!
Many people visit the Florida Keys each year in order to take advantage of its beaches. The many beach options up and down the over 100-mile Overseas Highway can get pretty overwhelming. That's why I've decided to map out where all the beaches are and help visitors decide which ones would be best to focus on.
For example, some Keys beaches are free and some charge a fee. You may need to balance the experience you'll get with the cost or even the time it will take to drive there.
Whatever the struggle, this post provides details on all the beaches, including my experiences with the ones I visited and a map to locate each one!
The Florida Keys are not very well known for their food. But I believe food is a great way to get to know the atmosphere and culture of a new place.
So this post will introduce you to Southern Florida by way of everything that went into my stomach (and more!).
I love doing these lists. They are a good way to sum up some of the extra stuff I did in a location that is good enough to share but does not warrant a full blown post.
So here's a bunch of photos with descriptions about stuff I did that's totally worth doing in New Orleans. This includes going to the French Market which was full of all kinds of excellent treasures (and giant watermelons) as well as taking my Atheist self to church on Sunday morning. Say what?!
You'll also recognize some emblematic experiences I've talked at length about elsewhere. Enjoy!
Last week, I shared stories from a cemetery tour of New Orleans about its burial processes, dead bodies, tombs, and vandalism. In this post, I share more unsettling stories from a ghost tour I took through the French Quarter.
When I was little, I loved to read Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark illustrated with those horrific drawings by Stephen Gammell. Today, I love to watch thriller movies, dress up for Halloween, and learn every story I can about the supernatural, even though I don't actually believe a word of it.
If you enjoy this stuff, too, then you'll love this post even more than the last! I include lots of in-depth stories and lore about murders, hauntings, suicides, and monsters, so you'll get your fill of everything from real-life horrors to silly (but eerie) myths.
The summer is officially over, the leaves are starting to fall, and all my favorite kitschy Halloween stuff is showing up in stores. This is, hands down, my favorite time of year to be in the United States.
In New Orleans this past summer, I went on a free cemetery tour and a free ghost tour where I learned historical and present day tales of the dead and other spooky happenings. What I learned easily qualifies New Orleans as one of the creepiest cities in the country!
With October only a few days away, I am excited to finally share the chilling history of New Orleans in two installments. In this post, I share what I learned from my tour of the city's oldest cemetery.
I'm taking a break this week from my New Orleans posts to share a bit about my home city!
While Jono was visiting me for 5 weeks this past summer, I took him on a tour of New York City. Although we did not get to do everything we wanted to, what we did do represents a really good outline of "must-do's" for first-time visitors to the Big Apple.
Lists like these have been done before. But what mine includes is a lot of insider tips you won't get elsewhere.
I discuss some of the most typical experiences you should try to have while in New York with tidbits on the best way to do it. These are experiences only a life-long New Yorker comes to know how to navigate—but now you'll know it, too!
It's been almost 2 months since I visited New Orleans and I can still feel it. That city had such a lasting impression on me, it's as if the symbolic elements of the city left a permanent imprint on my mind.
When I think of New Orleans, there are several iconic features that stand out to me.
If I had to paint a picture representing the Big Easy for you, it would not be complete without the following.
I have a confession: I accidentally broke into the Audubon Zoo while visiting New Orleans.
Well, perhaps breaking in is an exaggeration. I wandered in through the exit without realizing I was bypassing the admission fee.
Sometimes people make honest mistakes in their life. Sometimes they take advantage of loopholes. My situation fell somewhere in between. And I'll tell you why I felt guilty about it. No, I did not feel guilty that I didn't pay. I felt guilty because I had an epiphany: The caged animals in that zoo are a mirror image of the human race.
Allow me to explain.
I think I picked the worst month to visit New Orleans: The month of July.
When I booked my trip there, I did not realize that July is when many iconic experiences of the Crescent City completely stop for the month. Crawfish season is over, second line parades do not pick up again until August, and many more activities cannot be fully enjoyed as a result of the heat and excessive rain.
Despite these downfalls, I still had an awesome time in NOLA.
In the midst of posting about my visit to New Orleans last week, I neglected to acknowledge the tragic flooding happening in Louisiana.
The effects from the flooding continue to devastate.
So I'm going to take this post to express something I communicated on social media in the last few days. I will go back to my regularly scheduled posting next week!
At the end of 5 days in New Orleans, I felt like I had gained 100 lbs because of all of the eating we did. I regret nothing!
New Orleans is considered Americas "food city." There is literally something for everyone including some serious cultural eating you cannot get anywhere else. Yes, I'm talking about the Crescent City's famous Cajun and Creole influences.
In this post, I give a short review of all the traditional foods you cannot miss and the best places to order them. You'll also learn about the current BBQ craze and up-and-coming Vietnamese trend. Catch them both before they go out of style!
The music culture is one of the main reasons I decided to take Jono to New Orleans this summer.
Trumpets, tubas, and trombones lead the culture of this Louisiana town. It's where parades of brass instruments blare down the streets at the start of a new day and jazz processions commonly mark the end of a life.
From a famous, 20-year old brass band recognized by the Grammy's to simple street performing artists, I saw the Crescent City bring strutting jazz, indie funk, hip-hop attitude and old school swing together under one melodic genre that is uniquely New Orleans.
This is an introduction to New Orleans from the perspective I saw it: From the streets!
Aptly named the Big Easy, I comfortably explored the majority of downtown New Orleans by foot and street car last month. Jono and I were staying in an Airbnb that put us right at the cross section of several different neighborhoods within walking distance of the famous and lively French Quarter district.
Historic black culture, hurricane damage, enormous mansions, blaring brass instruments, drunken tourists and beignets—each of these characteristics define at least one of five neighborhoods in New Orleans.